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Elyria neighborhood concerned by police use-of-force arrest

Elyria neighborhood concerned by police use-of-force arrest
Posted at 10:21 PM, Sep 23, 2021

ELYRIA, Ohio — Chanta Rucker is an Elyria mother who believes police jeopardized her son's well-being during a Sept. 21 arrest in her neighborhood. Part of the arrest was recorded by neighbors and posted on social media.

Elyria police were called to Rucker's home after her son, 18-year-old Markese White, started fighting and punching her daughter.

But Rucker believes officers were too aggressive during the arrest and believes video of the incident shows one Elyria police officer slamming her son's head into the pavement and then using his forearm across her son's neck while her son was on his back, and the officer was on top of him.

“I’m crushed, I’m hurt, watching them do my son like that," Rucker said. "Me not being able to help him was even more heartbreaking and me talking to them, they still didn’t listen to anything I was saying.”

News 5 is not naming the Elyria police officer involved in the arrest because he has not been charged with a crime. Elyria police have placed the officer on paid administrative leave and the case has been turned over to the Lorain County Prosecutor's office to make an independent investigation.

Prior to the video of the arrest, and according to an Elyria police report, police tried first to talk with White, but the report indicates he was combative, unwilling to follow verbal commands, and verbally threatened officers several times.

The report stated White was "actively resisting, attempting to pull away from officers," and that officers "attempted to place him on his stomach in order to place him under arrest."

Police said White is scheduled for a Sept. 30 hearing on charges of resisting arrest, domestic violence, felonious assault, and intimidation.

Meanwhile, Rucker said she really appreciated that Elyria Police Chief Duane Whitely called her and assured her the investigation into how the arrest was handled will be treated fairly.

“He told me that his heart goes out to me, and as a person, he acted immediately in seeing what took place," Rucker said.

“Anybody that’s on the police committee, I feel they need to look into their officers.”

The Elyria Police Patrolmen's Association released the following statement regarding the incident:

On September 21, 2021 at 4:50 P.M., Elyria Police Officers were requested to respond to the area of Allen Street and Melvyn Lane in the Westway Gardens Housing Complex. Officers spoke to a victim who reported that they were violently assaulted by a family member. The mother of the suspect warned Officers the suspect had anger issues and would become violent when confronted by police. Officers determined probable cause existed to warrant an arrest.

A short time later, Elyria Officers located the suspect nearby. The suspect was immediately defiant, belligerent, and uncooperative with the Officers. Officers attempted to take the suspect into custody when he became combative. At the same time, Officers were confronted by a large aggressive crowd. The crowd surrounded the Officers and threatened their lives. One of the two Officers was forced to control the crowd while the other Officer attempted to arrest a combative suspect by himself.

This incident was recorded and shared through social media. Elyria Police Officers were observed using physical force to control a combative suspect. The circulating social media posts depict a still image or a brief video clip which are narrow in scope and do not depict the entirety of the incident. Officers attempted to control a violent situation while protecting the family members, including a child, for nearly 15 minutes. It is Departmental policy that anytime an Officer uses force against a citizen that the incident is reviewed and investigated. In this case, the matter was referred to the Lorain County Prosecutor for an independent review. Full transparency is required and necessary for the benefit of the citizens and the Officers involved.

As police officers, our primary goals are the protection of life and the maintenance of order. We understand the nature of our profession will often include criticism and a rush to judgement by some. As Elyria Police Officers, we understand that the public demands that we hold ourselves to a higher standard and anything less would be unacceptable. Police Officers have a duty and obligation to the community to protect and serve; unfortunately, on occasion, a criminal’s actions, whether through violence or resistance, require Officers to utilize force to protect themselves and others in the course of a lawful arrest. The laws of our country authorize the police to use force against citizens who refuse to comply with a lawful order given by police officers as long as that force is reasonable and necessary. The Elyria Police Patrolman’s Association asks that the community take a stand against violence and noncompliance used against your police officers during their lawful duties to protect lives and maintain order in the City of Elyria. We are navigating unprecedented times where social media has become an engine of unity or division in this country. We may only see the momentary actions of officers, not the humanity of their response. Together, we are what makes “Elyria strong.”

The Officer that was involved in this incident is a decorated Officer who has dedicated his career to law enforcement with integrity and professionalism, not only to the citizens of Elyria, but the residents of Lorain County. The Officer has been placed on administrative leave while the incident is under investigation. We, the Elyria Police Patrolman’s Association, ask the community, Elyria Police Leadership, Mayor Frank Whitfield and his administration to withhold judgement until all the facts of this case have been investigated. We believe that after a full and fair investigation, the Officer will be found to have acted reasonably.